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How american civil war was irrepressible

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016


The American civil war was the largest ever armed conflict to occur on America’s soil and it occurred in between the years of 1861 to 1865. It was deadly and arguably the most important event in the nation’s history. Sections entrenched in the constitution of the united sates Catapulted tension between the northern and the southern states leading to a brutal war. Slavery was a root cause of the conflict. This war increased America’s economic dominance until it overtook all the other countries of the world. It also lead the country into having a strong constitution that made Americans to be part of a single nation instead of a corporate made up of different states with their own rules and institutions. The war indeed changed the way Americans viewed their own nation seeing it as one nation. After the war every part of America’s national fabric changed; from the role of the federal government to the status of African Americans. The war was triggered by the victory of Abraham Lincoln in the elections of 1860.


In these elections. The Republican Party led by Lincoln won, beating three other candidates. The southerners did not vote for him so his victory was seen as a northern affair. His speech, given in 1858, stated that, a divided house cannot stand and visualized that America can not endure a “half-slave and half-free.” This clearly showed that he was a moderate and was therefore not up to task, in the views of the southerners, to be able to tackle the abolitionist they perceived as a threat. He countered this by stating he will uphold the doctrine of states right. Most southerners distrusted him.. His victory in the election led to the secession of eleven southern states from the union leading to the formation of the Confederate States of America with Jefferson Davis as its president. This was viewed by the US administrators as an act of treason.

Hostilities were prompted in April of 1861 when the conferderationist attacked a US military installation at fort summer in South Carolina leading to Lincoln, who had been in office for only six weeks to call for each state to volunteer an army. He declared these acts of secession as illegal and asked Congress for 500,000 soldiers to crush what threatened to be an aggressive rebellion. This lead to declaration of secession by four other states. In 1862 lincolin emancipation declaration made ending slavery in the south the goal of the war. This was the principle of abolition. As a principle it was more than just the need to limit and abolish slavery. Slavery existed in the southern states and the federal government could not intervene as the constitution did not permit. Previously most northerners had favored a gradual and compensated scheme of slave emancipation but this was rejected by 1849 where they know demanded its immediate end every where.

In 1807 external slave had been abolished making slave trade to be purely internal. The Dred Scott decision effectively limited the expansion of slavery in the US but the fugitive slave act that was subsequently passed declared slaves as properties. This lead to hostilities between the southern states and the northern ones. Politicians in a bid to stem the feuds brought the compromise of 1850 and negotiated the status of territories gained after the Mexican- American war (1846-1848). This compromise was also aimed at maintaining the balance of power in Congress between leaders of slave states and those of Free states. It designated land, boundaries and processes by which a country could be slave state or a free state. Still, these compromises did not prevent divisions from growing. Opposition to the abolition movement in the south was strong due to several factors.

The coexistence of the slavery south with the free states of the north was a recipe for disaster. Abraham lincolin had not proposed any laws to curb slavery and most politicians were riding on the fence. Political feuds were a bout expanding slavery to the new territories of the west so as to enhance economic security of the south. These new territories were more likely to become Free states, a move that propelled southerners to embrace secessionism. Both leaders of the north and south used Thomas Jefferson ideas listed in his Kentucky resolutions to defend there hard line positions. Slavery indeed was the chief reason for secession. The southerners used state rights as a cover for defending slavery. They used this doctrine of a states right to base many of their grievances. The Constitution aimed at taking a middle ground by juggling the notion of a federal government with the freedom of individual states to govern them.

This doctrine to which the United States was founded became the basis for the South in its quest to block northerners from imposing anti-slavery laws to it. The support of seccession was correlated to the number of plantations in the south and these were the regions that had more slave owners who had more than 100 slaves. To the southerners the notion of equality with blacks coupled with loss of economic prosperity was a worrisome matter. The north and south were different as the south had an agricultural economy based on slavery while the north had an industrial economy based on free labor and was an industrial power. The fear in the south was a bout the abolitionist movement in the north that was growing stronger each day and had the potential to putting down slavery and in effect putting an end to their way of life. The constitution of 1787 provided some legal protection to the institution of slavery and also prohibited the importation of slaves after 1808. By the first half of the nineteenth century, states north of the Mason – Dixon line that is the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania began to outlaw slave labor. This lead to temperament and brewing sectional conflict leading to the Missouri compromise of 1850 where the northern leaders accepted into the Union a new slave state of Missouri, on condition that Maine, another state be a free territory. These are the major primary factors that precipitated the American civil war.


The southern states were agricultural in nature. Hence they relied heavily on slavery as the main means of labor provision. This is what underpinned the high economic growth experienced by these states prior to the crush of the 1850s. Hence when the abolitionist was campaigning for equal rights and equality, these were viewed as a direct threat to there means of survival and wealth creation. The implication of slavery vibrated through the political, social and economic dimension in the relationship between the northern states and the southern states. This was the primary reason for the civil war and these factors made the slide to the civil war inevitable.


Nash, G,et al, “The American People, Creating a Nation and a Society Vol 1 to 1877”, sixth edition, Pearson, New York, 2008.

Finlay, J.L. “Pre-Confederation Canada: The Structure of Canadian History to 1867”, Prenice Hall, Scarborough,. 1990.

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